When there’s nothing to say… 

7 October, 2018             When there’s nothing to say… 

…it’s better not to say anything. No brilliant revelations or images this week, just the usual. Hawks (of course) and the moon more than a few times. And a couple of books since I’m thin on content this week. Here are the books I’ve been reading this week.

The Wildlife Center of Virginia Wildlife Book Club meets online on the first Tuesday of every other month. Tuesday of this week we read Zooburbia: Meditations on the Wild Animals Among Us by Tai Moses. It’s not my all time favorite book but it was adequate:  

Zooburbia – Tai Moses

I’ve also been rereading (and finished this week) an old favorite from Viktor Frankl called Man’s Search for Meaning. Viktor Frankl died at 92 years old in 1997. He was a psychiatrist and a prisoner at Auschwitz and Dachau until he was liberated by Allied forces in 1945. He went on to become a psychiatrist again as well as a writer and a teacher and in his spare time he took flying lessons! Some of the people I work with struggle with this subject, and I struggle with it myself from time to time. A refresher is always good:

Man’s Search for Meaning – Viktor Frankl

The third book I’ve been reading is A Love Letter to the Planet by Thich Nhat Hanh. If your mind is not at rest, as mine is occasionally not, read anything Thich Nhat Hanh ever wrote – he is a wildly prolific author, and easy to read. The book I mention here is only about twenty pages long, so you can get through it quickly. His style and content is not for everyone, but it is gratifying for me 100% of the time:

A Love Letter to the Planet – Thich Nhat Hanh

If I only blogged about hawks, this would have been a big week – I photographed one or more than one nearly every day. This one appeared the first time I was driving after sunrise Monday morning. This was at Westhampton Memorial and Cremation Park at 9:25:

Adult female Red-tailed hawk at Westhampton Memorial & Cremation Park on Monday, 10/1/2018:

This moon was right behind her and I tried to combine the images but it didn’t work. I’ve been lucky with that a time or two in the past but it is really not a shot you can plan for. You always know when and where the moon is, but sometimes it’s cloudy, and often it’s night, and most of the time there’s no hawk around! Anyway. This was the moon at 9:40 AM Monday:

Waning gibbous moon, 60% full, less than 24 hrs prior to “third quarter”:

This was the moon about 25.5 hours later at 11:10 AM Tuesday:

25 hours later, the difference is slight but detectable:

That same day at 11:00 a pair of Red-tails surprised me as they passed high over my house. You can hardly tell this is a hawk at all, but the clouds look pretty behind it: 

Lone Red-tail soaring in the center of this image; I like the texture of the clouds:

For people who aren’t into hawks, I apologize. The fall migration is on and there are hawks everywhere. This one was perched on the cross at Discovery United Methodist Church Monday morning: 

Like cats, hawks are “obligate carnivores.” That means they only eat meat. That gaze does not look apathetic:

Red Bellied Woodpeckers probably eat lots of insects too. But they’re not averse to a little feeder time: 

Hawks won’t eat bird seed. Woodpeckers will:

I flew on Thursday, though not as effortlessly as any of the birds photographed here (or anywhere) do. We just practiced maneuvers; we’re planning on some longer flights this month. I’m learning to talk with Air Traffic Control on the radio while I’m flying, which is incredibly hard. Believe me – flying at a few thousand feet at 100 mph on a pretty day – even takeoffs and landings – is not really difficult. I’ve got about fifty hours piloting the plane and way over 100 landings and I’m competent. But doing that while talking to and listening to an air traffic controller is quite difficult. But it’s the next step in my evolution as a pilot. Here’s the plane I flew Thursday: 

“Cessna 9754 Foxtrot” – that’s how I identify myself to Air Traffic Control

Friday morning on my way home from work I saw three separate Red-tails! The first was on the cell phone tower behind Fire Station 13 in western Henrico County. It was a male. I got his picture at 9:15. As the hawk flies it’s I suspect around 750 yards to the cross at Discovery United Methodist Church (DUMC). The female was there. I got her picture at 9:18. And when I got home there was yet another Red-tail on the power line tower near Freeman High School, almost within sight of my house. This one was a male and I got his picture at 9:35. The light was bleak all morning and none of the photographs were great but you can get closest to the one at DUMC, plus you can choose the side you want. Plus she was a female so she’s around a third larger than a male, which makes it easier to get a good image: 

Female Red-tail perched on the cross at Discovery United Methodist Church

Forgive me for overdoing it on the hawks! And come back next week! All best, 


PS – Reading addendum: Thich Nhat Hanh comes with my unqualified recommendation; everything he writes is wonderful. But the tone and pace and subject matter is not for everyone. I first read Thich Nhat Hanh ten years ago when I was dog and cat sitting for a dog named Marta and a cat named Cole. I was lying on the floor and Cole was sitting on my chest purring and I didn’t want to get up. I reached over to a bookshelf and pulled a slim purple volume called The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh from the bottom shelf. Cole fell asleep and I was in no rush so I just lay there reading. It was life-changing for me. I bought my own copy and I’ve been reading Thich Nhat Hanh ever since. The way I read it, it was more about paying attention than it was about meditation. But whatever works. It’s a fast read – try it out if you’re so inclined. 

About Jay McLaughlin

I am a rehabilitation counselor. I have many friends with autism and traumatic brain injuries. They help me learn new things constantly. I hike with dogs at the James River in Richmond - a lot. I've completed an Iron distance triathlon a year for 11 years. My most recent was in Wilmington, NC in November, 2013. I currently compete in mid-distance triathlons. And work and hike and take pictures and write and eat.
This entry was posted in Birds, Cessna 172, Fun, moon, raptors, Red-bellied woodpeckers, Red-tailed hawks, Rivers, Smiles (including "dog smiles"!), Wildlife Book Club, Wildlife Center of Virginia and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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